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Environment Agency: Cost Recovery

Lord Mackie of Benshie asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Environment Agency's regulatory charges are not based on the visit of an inspector, but on the total annual cost of the full range of agency activity associated with regulating specific environmental functions. The agency apportions its costs to individual chargepayers on the basis of the principles set out in its published charging schemes. The agency is currently consulting on proposals to realign its apportionment of costs to reflect the degree of environmental risk associated with activity. It is proposing to apply these principles to its integrated pollution prevention and control, and waste management charges and is considering extending this principle to other regulatory regimes and charges.

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control: Inspections

Lord Mackie of Benshie asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control is a regime for regulating industrial pollution, established by a 1996 directive of the same name and is being implemented through the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 and the Pollution and Control Regulations (Scotland) 2000. Corresponding secondary legislation for Northern Ireland is expected to be made early in 2003. Under this regime intensive pig and poultry production is regulated by the Environment Agency in England and Wales, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service. Installations existing in October 1999 in Great Britain will be required to apply for an IPPC permit around the end of 2006. New installations are required to have an IPPC permit before commencing operation. The regulators are working with the farming sector to streamline the regulatory process for farmers and to minimise costs. Charges are not being waived, although particular effort is being directed to helping first time applicants.

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Family Visitor Appeals

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have plans to review family visitor appeals in the light of the concern expressed by the citizens advice bureau.[HL636]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): The Government introduced family visitor appeals in October 2000. Since then, we have made a number of changes to the system in the light of operational experience and in response to input from stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations. We will consider the concerns of the National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux with the results of the research commissioned by the inter-departmental team which the Home Secretary set up to review family visitor appeals.


Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have taken legal advice on the practice of deporting people who have children born in this country and are therefore British subjects and ineligible for deportation and its compatibility with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL713]

Lord Filkin: A person born in the United Kingdom will not necessarily be a British Citizen. The law on citizenship changed on 1 January 1983 when the British Nationality Act 1981 came into force. Since that date, a child born in the United Kingdom will only be a British citizen automatically, if he is born to a parent who is either settled in the UK or a British Citizen. When deciding whether or not to take deportation action, staff in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate are required to act in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998. Where a person alleges that a decision taken under the Immigration Acts which relates to his right to remain in the United Kingdom infringes his human rights, he has a right of appeal to an adjudicator before removal unless he has already had a one-stop appeal at which the point could have been raised. Where the person has a British citizen child, that is a factor which will be taken into account in deciding whether or not to remove him or her, but the European Court has made it clear that Article 8 does not automatically over-ride the immigration laws of individual signatory states. Removal in those circumstances would therefore not necessarily be incompatible with that article.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether an order of deportation confers authority on those who execute it to deny deportees access to their possessions; and whose property such possessions are after deportation.[HL714]

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Lord Filkin: A person who is subject to deportation action is liable to detention in accordance with paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Immigration Act 1971. A deportation order does not directly affect access to possessions, but clearly a person who is not at liberty will not necessarily have free access. Deportation does not affect legal title, and any possessions remain the property of the deportee after his or her removal. The individual concerned will be aware that they are liable to removal from the United Kingdom, and the onus is on them to make such arrangements in respect of their possessions as they see fit.

Local Authorities: Administrative Errors and Enforcement Agents

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the suicide of Mr Watson living alone in Southwark and receiving jobseeker's allowance, as reported by the Local Government Ombudsman, what action they are taking to ensure that threats of legal action following an administrative error do not recur.[HL467]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): It is always a matter of deep regret when someone takes their own life. I would like to express my sympathy to the family of the deceased. We are committed to improving the administration of housing benefit and council tax benefit in all local authorities (LAs). We have listened to LAs and have introduced improvements that make the schemes easier for them to administer and easier for the public to understand. We have published comprehensive performance standards and have provided the tools for LAs to self-assess their performance. We also provide direct practical support for authorities through our help team, performance improvement action teams and a kit of proven service improvement tools and techniques. These measures have already begun to make a real difference to the standard of performance in many authorities. The Lord Chancellor's Department is working to improve the standards of business ethics and practice of the enforcement profession, enforcement agents and those who employ them or use their services. They have produced national standards for enforcement agents to share, build on and improve existing good practice and thereby raise the level of professionalism across the whole sector. This guidance includes the advice that enforcement agents or agencies and creditors must recognise that they each have a role in ensuring that the vulnerable and socially excluded are protected, and that the recovery process includes procedures agreed between them about how such situations should be dealt with.

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Both the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Local Government Association are strongly encouraging all LAs to ensure that enforcement agents working on their behalf adopt the national standards. In addition the Association of Civil Enforcement Agencies and the Certificated Bailiffs Association have both recently agreed to incorporate adherence to the national standards in their codes of conduct for their members in the near future and to encourage them to be recognised in contractual arrangements where appropriate. The Lord Chancellor's Department plans a White Paper early next year which will contain a package of proposals for improved methods of recovery for civil court debt and commercial rent, and a single regulatory regime for warrant enforcement agents.

Asylum Seekers: Health Screening

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What screening of asylum seekers for HIV/AIDS is being done.[HL509]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We do not offer asylum seekers routine testing for HIV. Voluntary and confidential testing is available in this country to anyone who feels that they may have been at risk of infection in free and open access genito-urinary medicine clinics.

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost to the taxpayer of screening asylum seekers for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.[HL510]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: A person's immigration status is not routinely recorded when they receive a test for tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS, and where this information is recorded it is not collected centrally. It is therefore not possible to calculate the overall cost to the taxpayer of asylum seekers who receive such services.

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